Review of Xiamen Airlines flight Wuyishan Xiamen in Economy

Airline Xiamen Airlines
Flight MF8365
Class Economy
Seat 9A
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 00:35
Take-off 09 Oct 11, 08:50
Arrival at 09 Oct 11, 09:25
MF 15 reviews
marathon
By GOLD 782
Published on 21st February 2018
This was the first leg of my return from a week-end in Mainland China from Taiwan.

TSA - KNH : Taipei - Kinmen (Mandarin Airlines 1267) Embraer 190
XMN – WUS : Xiamen - Wuyishan (Xiamen Airlines 8083) Boeing 737-700
WUS – XMN : Wuyishan - Xiamen (Xiamen Airlines 8365) Boeing 737-800 You are here
KNH - TSA : Kinmen - Taipei (Uni Air 898) Mc Donnell Douglas 90

The number of flights serving Wuyishan was on par with the limited fame of this national park : nine flights per day to/from CAN via XMN, XIY, SZX via XMN, PEK, FOC and three to XMN, before the last flight of the day to SHA on the next screen. All but one were operated by Xiamen Airline which was at home there. There was zero international flight then.
photo P1130732a
Six and a half years later, the website of WUS shows an interesting evolution :
- there are now 84 departing flights per week, i.e. 12 per day
- the number of destinations has grown dramatically, from 6 to 14, over half less than daily.
- Xiamen Airlines has lost its dominance : Shandong Airlines has 36 slots, China Eastern 20 slots, Xiamen Airlines 14 slots and Air Guilin 14. (I had never heard of the latter!)

Also note that there are now two quasi-international flights per week to HKG (HKG is in China, but for all practical purposes when flying is managed like an international destination), which means that there are customs and immigration facilities for the sole purpose of these two flights.
photo map-wus4
Let’s go back to 2011 and to the terminal then where only the panoramic stitching of several pictures give the impression of a vast hall.
photo P1130724%252520pano%252520a
It is politically incorrect to write that I was the only foreigner on board because there was a group of Taiwanese who were most likely going to go home like me via the Kinmen ferry. Checking in was very quick, and so was asking to change for a window seat.
photo P1130730a
The boarding room was not more full than that, but the group of Taiwanese had not arrived yet.
photo P1130728%252520pano%252520a
Arrival of the plane from Xiamen, preceded by a Follow me car
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… and setting up of the stairs (there were no jetbridges then).
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The walk on the apron was a long one to the left end of the terminal, as seen from the plane.
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It was shorter for us because we were at the other end of the terminal.
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My picture of the two rows of business class was better than on the way in thanks to natural light.
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On the other hand, my window seat turned out to be a non-window seat, because I was seated at the level of the E in XIAMEN on the fuselage. There was a window on the right, but not on the left: a peculiarity of the 738 that I discovered that day (Boeing’s engineers did not bother to adjust the length of the frame plugs, unlike their Airbus colleagues). The comfort grade of MF took an instant beating, because it was a nearly full flight and I had no chance to find a reall window seat. I nevertheless managed to take pictures through the window behind me, without looking.
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The rest of the cabin was quite usual and the seat pitch was decent, like in all Chinese 738s. I don’t like much this mauve color, but it is a pure matter of personal taste.
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Take-off: my unfavorable seat makes me miss a picture of fighter jets (covered with tarpaulin, and therefore hard to identify) lined up near the runway threshold.
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Up in the blue sky
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… above the mountains
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The catering was nearly the same as on the way in, with the sole difference of the replacement of 40 g of peanuts by 20 g of peanuts and almonds, plus 20 g of dried kumquats.
photo P1130760a
Decending towards Xiamen. Xiamen, as you probably know, is in fact a large island at the bottom of a deep bay, about forty kilometers around, i.e. close to the 42.195 km length of a marathon. The existence of flat coastal road allows therefore Xiamen to host a renowned marathon where an usual record was set in 2009: 40 out of the 100 first runners were disqualified for cheating. All were Chinese high school students who hoped to gain a few bonus points at the feared gaokao 高考 (the end of high school exam which determines their fate for univeristy admissions), if they clocked in below 2h35’, a national level performance that I never dreamed approaching.
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Landing on time, deployment of thurst reversers.
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This was the terminal by day, with of course many Xiamen Airlines aircraft.
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Reaching the gate alongside a Hainan Airlines aircraft.
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Deplaning
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This young airport staff was distributing promotional maps of Xiamen. The FIDS overhead showed the diversity of the destinations and of the airlines serving them (Guangzhou, Shijiazhuang, Wuhan, Wuyishan, Kunming, Nanjing, respectively).
photo P1130777a
I won’t describe in detail the ferry crossing from Xiamen back to Kinmen: it was very similar to the reverse trip. Only that the boat was a lot more comfortable, with this IFE screens showing the national news (I had had already the boring speech of then President Hu Jintao on the radio in the taxi from the airport), and the counter for on board sales back left. On the other hand, there was no way I could take pictures outside: the windows to the front were opaque and that on the side completely covered with salt. I could only use a small tinted but reasonably clean window on a crew door in the rear, as passengers had no access to the open air during the crossing. The loading factor on Sunday morning was very low, around 10%
photo P1130793a
The arrival at the immigration in Kinmen could look like that of any airport if there weren’t this giant posters. Claiming 金門歡迎您 (Kinmen welcomes you, written vertically) with an assault rifle holding cartoon character was a rather heavy-handed message to the citizens of Mainland China (which suffered a crushing defeat in Guningtou 古寧頭 when they tried to invade Kinmen in 1949). Together with a logo (top left) of the one hundred years anniversary of the Republic of China (= Taiwan), the reminder to Mainland Chinese visitors was loud and clear : this is not your country, but ours.
photo P1130818a

Why go to Wuyishan, besides the fun of an unusual entry into Mainland China ? This is the topic of the short ensuing bonus.

Bonus : Click here display
See more

Verdict

Xiamen Airlines

6.9/10
Cabin6.5
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Meal/catering8.0

Wuyishan - WUS

8.8/10
Efficiency10.0
Access7.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Xiamen - XMN

8.4/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

Bad luck for Xiamen’s comfort rating which assigned me one of the worst seats in the aircraft, from my point of view. The rest was decent, for the same price as on the way in.

Related

2 Comments

  • Comment 433239 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    “The existence of flat coastal road allows therefore Xiamen to host a renowned marathon where an usual record was set in 2009: 40 ou tof the 100 first runners were disqualified for cheating. All were Chinese high school students who hoped to gain a few bonus points at the feared gaokao 高考 (the end of high school exam which determines their fate for univeristy admissions), if they clocked in below 2h35’, a national level performance that I never dreamed approaching.”
    2h35min?? Oh wow.

    “Probably not many”
    I guess I belong to that list of people..

    Nice bonus pictures.

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 433281 by
      marathon GOLD AUTHOR 9602 Comments

      “2h35min?? Oh wow.”
      - It does not make sense to encourage high school students to try to reach an elite level on a marathon. I was once explained that, in children, sprinting develops the size of the heart, whereas long distance running thickens the heart muscle,which should occur later. That is the reason why there are minimum ages in races: in France, you must be at least 20 years old to enter a marathon.

      Now you are aware about Wuyishan, arguably not a priority destination in China.

      Thanks for your comments !

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